41 CHRONICLESnSex and the clergy have never made angood combination, and when the nation’snCatholic bishops wrote a draftnletter on the status of women, we couldnjust about predict the outcome. Thentime has passed when clergymen shepherdednflocks or attended to questionsnof the eternal. Men of the cloth nownkeep busy scrambling to keep up withnthe latest in progressive fashion. Innprevious letters the bishops have accusednAmerica of militarism, racism,nand (in the Rev. Jesse’s phrase) “economicnviolence.” In this missive theyndiscover a sin that was somehow left offnthe Seven Deadliest list: the “sin ofnsexism.”nAs the bishops reveal, they haven”collectively” undergone “a profoundnexamination of conscience” and havenfound that “sexist attitudes” have “colorednchurch teachings for centuries.”nIn penance, the Church must embracenfeminism. The bishops endorse daycarencenters, parental leaves withoutnloss of job status, affirmative actionnlaws, and “flex-time, job sharing, andncomparable pay for comparablenworth.” They note sympatheticallynthat “many Catholic women” find thenChurch’s traditional emphasis on thenpermanence of marriage, the value ofnmotherhood, and the importance ofnchastity to be “countercultural” bulwarksnagainst social trends. Far be itnfrom the bishops to resist the trendy;nteaching on sexuality now must ben”compassionate,” “practical,” andnaware that “as sexual beings” men andnwomen find themselves “in unique,ndiverse, and complex circumstances.”nAbortion — that great obstacle innthe way of the bishops’ progress innliberal circles — gets only the briefestnmention in the 35,000-word draft letter.nBy their next sentence, they arenfalling over themselves to makenamends, apologizing for the “pain andnuncertainty” provoked by the Church’snteaching on contraception. They wantnit known that “we especially encouragena spirit of compassion toward thosenCULTURAL REVOLUTIONSnwho in good conscience have not livednin accord with the ideal set forth by thenChurch.”nPastoral letters usually consist ofnepiscopal meditations. A large part ofnthis draft letter consists of testimonynsubmitted by “women’s groups.” Thenformat resulted from objections that annall-male group has no business writingnanything on women. No one was similarlyntroubled by the spectacle of mennwithout wives or children lobbying fornday care and a host of other measuresndisruptive of family life. The bishopsnknow their audience, and they knownthat insensitivity to traditional familiesn— unlike, say, insensitivity to lesbiansn— does not constitute heresy to thenPowers That Be of the here and now.nThe bishops urge that the Churchnordain female deacons and otherwisenmove women into new “leadershipnroles” such as distributing Communion,nserving on team ministries, providingn”spiritual direction,” teaching innseminaries, and holding top administrativenpositions in dioceses. But therenhas to be some limit to reform. Likenthe congressmen who vote for “civilnrights” laws from which they havenexempted themselves and their staffs,nthe bishops continue to bar womennfrom their own ranks. Although theynpromise that in the fiiture all malenpriests will be properly docile (“sexistnattitudes” are “negative indications fornfitness for ordination”), NOW will notnbe appeased. There is a principlednargument to be made on behalf of thenstatus quo, one based on Christianndoctrine, natural law, and Catholicntraditions. But clergymen who grow fatnon praise from the Church’s enemiesnare in no position to appeal to principle.n(MK)n”Understanding AIDS/’ the U.S.nSurgeon General’s brochure on “publicnenemy number one,” has beenncalled the first mass mailing of a federalnpolicy message to every Americannnnhousehold. In fact, an earlier administrationnattempted to meet a very differentnpublic danger—nuclear attack—nwith a similar mail campaign. Comparisonnof the social assumptions found inneach document offers an unsettlingnportrait of social change in Americanover the last quarter-century.nPresident John Kennedy, in a 1961nstatement appearing at the height ofnthe Cold War, pledged that “in thencoming months I hope to let everyncitizen know what steps he can taken… to protect his family in case ofnattack.” Kennedy proposed mailing anbooklet with this purpose to eachnAmerican home. With 60 million anticipatedncopies, the document wouldnbe—in one aide’s words—“the mostnwidely distributed piece of literature innman’s history outside of the Bible.”nUsing contracted editorial assistancenfrom Time, Inc., the Defense Department’snOffice of Civil Defense producedna draft circulated among thenKennedy inner circle. Significantly,nthe document assumed that Americanwas uniformly composed of suburban,nmiddle-class families. In pictures andntext, the booklet featured family teamsnof husbands, wives, and children, inntheir single-family dwellings, workingntogether to prepare their homes fornnuclear blast. They improvised radiationnshields in basements, piled dirtnaround window wells, read books togethernin tidy shelters, stored suppliesnin their cabin cruisers, and worked withnneighbors to build community falloutnshelters which could double as an “afternschool hangout” for “gregariousnteenagers . . . where they can relaxnwith sodas and play the juke box.”nOf course, American social life wasnmore complex than this, and the impliednpolitical sociology of the bookletndid not pass unchallenged (Ambassadornto India John Kenneth Galbraith,non receiving the draft, replied withnconsternation: “The present pamphletnis a design for saving Republicans andnsacrificing Democrats!”). Moreover,n